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‘Yotes Notes: Panik arrives, Ekman-Larsson aims for better second half

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) and Vegas Golden Knights center Jonathan Marchessault chase the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Richard Panik took the ice for practice with the Coyotes on Thursday, one day after Arizona acquired him in a trade that sent forward Anthony Duclair to the Chicago Blackhawks.

He was skating on the top line with center Derek Stepan and left wing Brendan Perlini.

Panik said the trade took him by surprise.

“I was ready to play a game and the trade came,” he said. “It happened quickly but now I’m here so now I’m focusing on my next steps here in Arizona.”

Panik signed a two-year, $5.6 million deal with Chicago after posting career highs in goals (22), assists (22) and points (44) last season. Much of that production came playing alongside stars Jonathan Toews and fellow Slovak Marian Hossa, who went on long-term injured reserve this season due to a skin disorder and the side effects associated with the medication he took for it.

Panik struggled this season with six goals and 16 points and was demoted to a lower line. His goal Tuesday in Ottawa was his first since Oct. 21, and his first 5-on-5 goal since the second game of the season.

“I started good then hit a slump and had the chances but couldn’t get it into the net,” Panik said. “I guess that cost me.”

Panik said to be effective he needs to be “involved with my body. I guess I didn’t play like that and now I want to get back to that game and contribute more for this team.”


Oliver Ekman-Larsson said he was surprised by his All-Star selection on Wednesday.

“I don’t think I’m having a great year but at the same time, I have a lot of confidence in myself and I know that I’m going to be better,” Ekman-Larsson said. “It took a while to get used to the system and having new coaches around the team, too.”

Ekman-Larsson (six goals, 19 points) also acknowledged that the death of his mother last spring has had a profound impact on him.

“I will never get over it but at the same time I will learn how to live with it,” he said. “It’s not easy. That’s something that I’m working on every day.”

While the Coyotes have passed the midpoint of the season, assistant coach Scott Allen, who coaches the defense, said it is not fair to assume that Ekman-Larsson has fully adjusted to a different style of play.

“I don’t think he is,” Allen said. “We’re all creatures of habit. If you’re used to doing something a certain way and you’re used to playing within a certain type of system and then things change, that does take time.

“When the intensity ramps up and certain situations arise, we all have a tendency to go back to what we’re comfortable with; go back to what we’re used to.”


— Coach Rick Tocchet had to leave practice on Thursday for an emergency dental appointment that did not appear to be related to practice.

— Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson did not skate with one of the team’s top three defense pairs on Thursday. Allen said it has not been decided when Hjalmarsson will return to the lineup.

— Forward Zac Rinaldo will serve the final game of his six-game suspension on Friday.

Oilers at Coyotes
When: 7 p.m., Friday
Where: Gila River Arena
TV: FOX Sports Arizona Plus
Radio: ESPN 620 AM
Records: Coyotes — 10-27-6. Oilers — 18-23-3.

Injury/suspension report: Coyotes — D Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body) is day to day. F Zac Rinaldo is suspended for one more game. Oilers — None.

Oilers scouting report: Edmonton has lost three straight games and seven of its last eight (1-6-1). …CenterConnor McDavid leads the Oilers with 48 points (15 goals, 33 assists). … The Oilers have allowed the first goal in 27 of their 44 games. They are 7-19-1 in those games.

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